It seemed like a good idea at the time… host a kid boat post rendezvous party. "At the time," however, took place while we were hundreds of miles from any kids except those on our buddy boat. Lots and lots of children in the same place seemed like a fantastic idea. Of course, lots and lots of children in the same place is perhaps a much better idea on paper than it is in person.
Don Quixote broadcast the call on the SSB South Pacific Cruisers Net for kid boats to meet in Moorea the day after the Tahiti-Moorea Rendezvous. The idea was to extend the opportunity for kids to just hang out together. We volunteered to host the day, bringing a few activities and some grilled meats to seed the party, as it were. When asked, "What do you have planned?" I confessed that the sum total of my plan was to, "Put the kids ashore and get out of the way." Response to the idea was enthusiastic and ultimately, a dozen boats joined us with nearly twenty kids ranging from 5 to 17 years old. The kids skewed mostly older this year, surprising to long time observers of the Puddle Jump fleet. All the kids but Jake of Savannah were 10 and over. In fact, at times this year we fleet adults feel we are awash in teen angst, nautical style.
As a rule, boat kids need little guidance on how to have fun. Even when they are in very small numbers or solo, boat kids know how to take advantage of everything around them to fill their days. Boat kids bring inexhaustible curiosity and energy to everything they do. The prior day during the official rendezvous, it was our many boat kids who consumed the majority of the time and energy of the locals who were on hand to teach crafts such as lei and basket making, coconut husking, and coconut milking. They were active participants in the canoe and fruit carrying races, and it was the kids who tried to pick up the monster rocks of the Tahitian weight lifters.
The kid boat day on the beach was essentially a repeat of the prior day's activities without the pretty flowers, clever adults, and musical entertainment. DrC and I went ashore and nominally kept count of the many sun-bleached heads while the kids made their own party. While at times we lost sight of a few of the flock, the activities we saw them engage in included: hair braiding, tying people to trees, climbing trees, stripping trees of bark, hanging people from trees, running around trees, lifting trees up, pulling trees down, making plates, bowls, hats, whips, and tables out of tree leaves, getting coconuts out of trees, throwing coconuts into trees, knighting people with tree chunks, sitting in trees, eating trees, and sitting under trees eating. There were also many activities which involved rope, some of which looked positively dangerous and all of which included at least one bowline and two half-hitches, one project even included a monkey's fist.
As the sun set, the adults starting drifting ashore with drinks and food. In a memorable display of stupidity, Toast dropped all the sausages overboard after being sent to retrieve dinner. "One hand for the boat, one hand for the sausage" is not just a salacious commentary on cruising couples any more; These are literally words to live by. Fortunately, Watcha Gonna Do and Loose Pointer stepped into the gap with enormous pots of Mac N'Cheese (the meal of champions) and dorado (the meal of cruisers who can actually catch fish) respectively. Everyone got plenty to eat, spent an enjoyable evening swapping stories, and got a bit tipsy happy besides. Of course, we kid boats can afford to enjoy sundowners on the beach as the kids were there zooming around in the dinghies to rescue us after dark. Good to ship out with your own designated driver!
So a note to kid boats following in our wake in subsequent years. Organizing a kid boat party requires a radio, roughly five minutes of concentrated thought, and a really good sun hat for the day of the event. Otherwise, both children and adults of the kid boat fleet take care of themselves and know how to enjoy a a nice long day together on a tropical beach in paradise. Just don't drop the sausage!